Of the many wonders of our existence, time and free will rank at the top of the list. What is most important is how we use them.

The theme here is not that we should choose to make better use of our time, but rather how the Great Falls Public School District and the Great Falls City Commission use both time and choice to their advantage, and often not, for those they are supposed to serve.

Self-preservation and advancement are strong motivators, which can result in cronyism, hiding information, and corruption. Even in a small community such as ours, these acts go unnoticed to most citizens except a few, or those directly affected. In the absence of investigative journalism, the problem is even more hidden and accountability is non-existent.

For those who may not know how our elected officials and administrators use time and free will to their advantage, let’s take a little trip back into history.

Recently, when several sitting city commissioners were found to have rewarded their friends and families in the award of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds their stated defenses went something like this:

“Great Falls is a small community and everyone knows someone.”

“But my wife works in a different part of the organization than the part which was applying for the grant.”

And so on. These public officials were admonished by the Department of Housing and Urban Development – the federal agency responsible for administering the CDBG program, and local funds were withdrawn. The Mayor’s response was – “let’s just move on”.

In other words, time is on our side and people will forget. Yes, time can be a huge ally.

Time was also used as an ally by the Great Falls Public School District when the Building and Grounds Department was rocked by charges that the supervisor was using district resources to his own benefit. An investigation ensued, the supervisor resigned under pressure, and the case was closed and sealed to protect the individual’s privacy.

How about the taxpayer’s right to know if a crime was committed? Was the whole affair just swept under the rug with the hope that with the passing of time, the public will forget? Was the district’s attitude – let’s just move on?

When a school board trustee sits on a private company’s board of directors with another board member who she votes to award a school contract to, not once but twice, is that serving herself, or helping a friend? But what the heck, let’s just move on, right?

And what about the fact that the current superintendent, Tammy Lacey, participated in the architectural selection process for both new elementary schools totaling over $30M, while her ex-husband is employed by the architectural firm selected?

How about the locker room hazing incident referred to as “power gobbling” at Great Falls High School, which was reported as a sexual assault and not reported to the police for almost two months after the student’s family first brought it to the staff’s attention?

Information obtained from the student’s family indicate that at least two members of the Great Falls High counseling staff were advised of the incident on September 15, 2011 and yet the Great Falls Police Department was not notified until October 30, 2011.

According to the Montana ACLU website a school becomes legally responsible when the school’s response to harassment “is clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.”

Was a 45 day delay in reporting the assault “clearly unreasonable”? You be the judge.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network website on the “Mandatory Reporting Requirements: Children Montana” page states that reports are required to be made promptly.

One of the two GFHS staff members seemingly involved in the non-reporting of the sexual assault was later promoted to principal at Great Falls High, and is now about to be hired as the new assistant superintendent of secondary education for the school district.

Of course the district’s investigation report is sealed due to attorney-client privilege. What are they hiding?

Obviously, both the City Commissioners and the school district are familiar with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones’ song – “Time is on My Side”, with the Bob Marley refrain – “Every Little Thing is Going to be Alright”.



Posted by Philip M. Faccenda

Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

Reader interactions

6 Replies to “Time”

  1. OMG! How can people allow this to be done who @re there to protect and assist?


  2. Yah, do we remember The city power fiasco? Those involved kept being rewarded while the city would have been bankrupted if someone like Mary Jolley And our current City Manager hadn’t got the ball rolling to stop it. As it was there was a huge debt to pay and it was on the backs of us citizens. But Lawton got a pay raise and nice fat retirement and Bronson kept on keeping on because? The public forgot? And Tracy Houck insisted it was a good idea! WHAT! Time…..


  3. You missed the special ed kid who was having his head put in the sink as punishment at North middle school. Nobody was fired, the principal was promoted to principal at GFHS. The head of HR who would have been heavily involved in the investigation and corrective action did nothing and was later made superintendent.

    The state investigated and found that it all happened but found no damages because the kid was too developmentally delayed to have any lost income potential.

    Our county attorney (who is now the judge that needed copter rescued from his own front yard because he forgot to put on a coat and didn’t have the sense to walk back home when he got cold) started prosecution against the tormenters of the special ed kid but then dropped all the charges without interviewing all the willing witnesses who were adult district employees. They wanted to talk, according to my conversations with them. Clearly, the dropped charges was a political favor to the district to sweep it all under the rug.



    1. Sharon Rae Marsonette April 4, 2019 at 8:24 AM

      Was the judge Dirk Sandefur. Alex Maricio Botina-Roehm got off with 6 months probation even tho he penetrated my grandson’s rectum.

      We are still very mad at the whole thing. Heather Hoyer was totally unconcerned.


  4. Sharon Rae Marsonette April 4, 2019 at 8:17 AM

    I am the students grandmother. He is still suffering from the incident. It happens everyday in GFHS boys gym but the boys are too intimidated to report it. Power gobbling is when a boy makes a fist out of both hands and comes up behind an unsuspecting boy from behind and comes up into his testicles as hard as he can.
    The school fought us pretending it was just boys being boys. Heather Hoyer was the person fighting us the hardest.
    Ask your teenage boys about this. I am sure it may still be going on.
    Their solution was a “come to Jesus” talk to the boys by the coach.


    1. The entire school district needs a “come to jesus” talk with me. I dare them to try something with me or my son at GFH…


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